I recently jumped into vintage sports card checklist collecting and have gone deep down the rabbit hole. I’ve noticed that high-grade basketball checklists are particularly scarce in high grades, so I wanted to share a little more about five super-tough checklists here on the blog.
1969 Topps #99 Checklist 1-99
The 99-card 1969 Topps basketball set is one of the most popular in the hobby. It’s full of stars like Lew Alcindor, John Havlicek, and Wilt Chamberlain. But you may be surprised to know that the checklist is the second most expensive card in the set after the Alcindor rookie when it comes to high-grade cards. The card isn’t particularly scarce; overall, PSA has graded 712 of them. But the majority are 4s, 5s, and 6s. Plus, 179 have qualifiers like marks (common to vintage checklists). The tricky thing is that there are zero PSA 10s of this card, only three 9s, and 22 8s. Given the set’s popularity amongst vintage basketball collectors and set registry participants, the fact that the last PSA 9 checklist sold for almost $13k back in 2019 isn’t so surprising.
1970 Topps #101 Checklist 111-175 1970-71 in White
There are two checklists in the 1970 Topps basketball set. One for cards 1-110 and another for cards 111-175. The 1-110 checklist has 446 total grades with 1 ten and 20 9s. But the tough card is a variant of the 111-175 checklist. The 111-175 checklist has 1970-71 in Black and a 1970-71 in White variant, with the white one being far more scarce. The in Black has over 550 graded examples, and the in White has 116. But there are no PSA 10s of the in White variation with only fourteen 9s. In comparison, there are three 10s and forty 9s in black, and the earlier 1-110 checklist has one 10 and twenty 9s.
1972 Topps #248 ABA Checklist 177-264
The 1972 Topps basketball set is known for the Julius Erving card and has two checklists covering its 264 cards. The NBA checklist, which covers cards 1-176, is the easier of the two, with four PSA 10s and 27 PSA 9s amongst its 159 total graded population. The ABA checklist covers cards 177-264 and has no PSA 10s and 14 PSA 9s amongst its population of 168. The last PSA 9 sold for $157 in early 2019. With 92 participants in the 1972 Topps basketball set registry, a PSA 10 ABA checklist would surely command huge prices.
1974 Topps #203 ABA Checklist
The 1975 Topps basketball set also has two checklists, with the NBA version having one PSA 10 amongst its 101 total grades. The ABA checklist has far fewer total grades, with only 52 in the population report with zero 10s and two 9s. And a PSA 9 hasn’t been sold on the open market in a long time for us to estimate its cost, and even with a smaller 45 set registry entrants, the fact that 5 have complete sets, bids for a 9 or 10 would be fierce.
1986 Fleer #132 Checklist 1-132
What’s challenging about a card with 2500 copies in the population report, and 82 of them being a PSA 10? The price! The set has such heavy demand that the last few PSA 10 sales of the checklist are over $6k.
The thing I’m thankful for in terms of vintage basketball checklist collecting is that none of 1948 Bowman, 1957 Topps, or 1961 fleer (The Big 3 basketball sets) has a checklist. The price of one would be astronomical.
Don’t forget to follow my second Twitter account, @ChecklistGuy, for more info about this small hobby niche if you’re into checklists.